A report from the Preah Vihia border

Albeiro, thank you for your analysis and clear standpoint which I almost completely agree with. As you I stay in this country for a long time (15y) already. And I just came back from Preah Vihear trying to visit the temple as a photo journalist the second time after 10 years (at that time with a Thai friend). At the base of the mountain I couldn’t enter the temple itself because another Thai fight just begun… I saw burning spots at the mountain side. With my Cambodian friend I talked to representatives of APSARA and Preah Vihear Protection Authority. Next to their house they had just build a little air-raid shelter from concrete pipes covered with sand. A weak protection I thought…

Driving towards the Tempel area an endless line of local people on motorbikes or small farmer vehicles passed by – leaving the dangerous locations. – Once again. Looking at these poor people carrying all their belongings they possess, with babies, old people, rice bags, a tea pot and an umbrella on top against the heat of the day made me almost crying… Again it’s the ordinary people who suffer most. After all the mess they faced not long time ago with still unsolved trauma …


Well, it’s not the first time in history that governments, or states, or power struggling factions with serious problems at home look for a diversion and create a problem to unite at home. In this case I found the ultra-nationalists play their game. Not at Souvanapumi airport – no, this time far away, as they think, to avoid own damage. This is political gambling. As a German I know best how Nationalism can destroy a whole country and even divide it… Nationalism on either side is a huge danger.

That a Buddhist country like Thailand chooses a (present-day) Buddhist Temple for a fight with weapons against another Buddhist country make me beginning to have doubt if they are real Buddhists…

All this fighting is already a drama, indeed. But to use cluster bombs by Thailand’s army is nothing less than a shame! Most countries in the world banned last year cluster bombs. Because they are a totally inhuman threat for all civilians. (BTW Also Cambodia must ratify this treaty to ban Cluster bombs!)

With European history in my background the only way of solving problems is: To TALK. A balance of interests. Why not recognize this World Heritage Site as a common Buddhist Shrine for all brothers and sisters, Cambodians and Thai as well? And the tourists will enjoy, too. Everybody can have a benefit.

With war everybody only loses at the end!

One thing more I ‘d like to say: I think it it NOT helpful at all to insult the other side – whoever it is. Not only Cluster bombs can destroy – also words. To some response:To blame the highly admired King himself has no evidence at all. He is both a very old and very ill man – who knows if he’s even aware of all this? I think there are other responsibilities.

Since I’m here in Cambodia I always was, and still are, socially engaged to help to build-up. It would be a shame if the two brother countries would destroy what was build-up.
Both countries need smart and responsible leaders.

Arjay Stevens


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About Albeiro Rodas

Albeiro Rodas (in Cambodia Sky Ly Samnang), is a MA in Digital Communication, independent journalist and a Salesian of Don Bosco from Amalfi, Colombia, based in Cambodia since 1999. He is the creator of the Don Bosco schools of journalism in Sihanoukville and Kep with young people from poor communities and the founder of the Don Bosco Kep Children Fund. Medal for Social Commitment UPB (2010); among the 100 more upstanding Colombians abroad (Marca Colombia, 2012, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X39xwdGtVXI) and among the 12 Colombians that are making this a better world 2013 (http://www.colombia.co/en/culture/colombians-that-are-making-this-a-better-world.html).

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